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Advertising for the Hyundai Genesis attempts to kick past the luxury barrier

August 27, 2008 |  2:03 pm

Hyundaigrille500_2 Hyundai has earmarked a cool $80 million to advertise its new luxury car, the Hyundai Genesis. This is above and beyond the 5 million bucks spent on two 30-second Super Bowl spots teasing the product earlier this year. That’s a bunch of money, but according to Hyundai’s marketing director, Chris Perry, launching an entirely new brand under the Hyundai banner would have cost nearly three times as much.

The Genesis, which prices out (in some cases) at tens of thousands less than comparable luxury sedans, does carry the Hyundai badge as well as the possibly perceived baggage of a low-end consumer perception. Hyundai hopes this car and its related ad campaign will change all that. Copy points in the ads don't shy away from the competition. The message includes direct comparisons to Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Porsche. Hyundai adds its own voice tagging the end of the ad with the ominous "The barrier to luxury has just been officially been kicked in." Hyundai's Perry believes the timing for this bold value proposition is perfect. “It’s all about legitimizing the brand -- the Hyundai name has had a five- to 10-year-old perception that is no longer true.”

So, rather than trying to sell you on Hyundai as a luxury brand, the advertising pros at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners have come up with a new strategy -- to pummel you with logic. They would like people to judge Hyundai based on the car’s own merit. The campaign asks you to put aside all of that “snob appeal” that true luxury cars evoke and get the same car at a much lower price and with better gas mileage (18 city/27 highway mpg on the V-6 version).

Bold reality checks have been an advertising tradition since the dawn of Madison Avenue, and Hyundai’s claims aren’t that far from reality. The Genesis has been praised by the automotive press for its design refinements inside and out, new rear-wheel drive trains, its performance and handling, just to name a few plus sides. All this makes the Hyundai advertising message an even more interesting (if not expensive) marketing experiment. Will American car buyers accept and buy a lower-priced luxury car sans the snob appeal of the luxury brand reputation? In cars, as in love and war, all is fair.

-- Joni Gray

Photo and video courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

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